Can I make a confession?
When I started writing, I was no Shakespeare. I wasn’t even a Hemingway.
In fact, I was downright awful.
Like many of you, I didn’t get any kind of degree in writing. I didn’t shine in high school English. I never entertained dreams of being a best-selling author.
And my first few posts online proved it.
But over time, I started realizing how important writing is in business. (Spoiler alert: it’s super important.)
So I studied, practiced a lot, and got better. I’m still no Shakespeare, but I’ve learned a lot about writing.
Writing isn’t a talent—it’s a skill. A skill you can develop, refine, and improve.
Becoming a great copywriter isn’t easy, but if you consistently work on your writing, your writing will get better and better.
Here are 38 writing tweaks that will propel you to copywriting mastery.
1. Use you instead of we or us
Guess what? Your copy shouldn’t be about you. It should be about the customer.
Using you means the copy is talking directly to the customer. But using we and us turns you into another boring company.
Don’t fall victim to the “all about us” copywriting trap. Show your readers how they’ll benefit.
See how SumoMe’s home page features a huge you statement?
You know you should sell benefits instead of features. But you can’t stop there—you have to emphasize that value. That’s why you need to qualify your value statements.
By making a list or a series of sections about benefits, you’ll communicate both quality and quantity. Your customers will be able to see a clearer picture of what you can do for them.
3. Ditch boring verbs
Remember in high school English class when your teacher told you to avoid the passive voice? That’s still true and extends to passive-sounding verbs, like the verb to be.
Because they tend to sound boring.
Which is more exciting: “Vacation is near” or “Get ready for vacation”?
I’m betting it’s the second one.
When it comes to your copy, don’t skimp on the verbs. Use strong, active verbs, and be direct.
4. Focus on your titles and headings…
Legendary marketer David Ogilvy is famous for saying,
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
Take a lesson from the master, and create the best titles and headings possible. Whether you’re writing the main headline on a landing page or an email subject line, put some serious thought into it.
5. Resist clickbait temptations
While clickbait titles can initially boost your conversion rate, they’ll hurt you in the long run. That’s because with clickbait, you’re over-selling and under-delivering.
Instead, craft titles relevant to your readers. Rely on that relevancy to sell the title. Promise only what you can actually deliver, and then deliver.
6. Practice writing fewer words
Even if you’re writing a 3,000-word blog post, you still need to be concise. Take Strunk’s advice, and “omit needless words.”
Next time you’re writing something, challenge yourself to express your idea with as few words as possible. Then, build on that skeleton.
7. Write shorter sentences
Short sentences are powerful.
While you shouldn’t try to make every sentence short, you should use them to break up the text. No one wants to read a sentence that’s two paragraphs long.
Short sentences catch your readers’ attention. They’re easier to digest, and they help readers move through the content easily.
8. Harness the power of single sentence paragraphs
A single sentence paragraph can do a lot.
(See what I did there?)
When you use a single sentence paragraph on its own, you draw attention to it. Your readers will know that’s an important point to remember.
If you want your readers to listen up and remember something, make that sentence into its own one-line paragraph.
9. Brainstorm unique CTAs
To be blunt, a “Buy now” button is boring. So is “Join.” And don’t even get me started on “Click here.”
Use your call to action to give your readers something different. A great CTA lets readers know what they’re getting, and it gives them a great reason to click on it.
Treehouse has a great CTA on its homepage:
10. Bold or italicize important statements
If there’s something you want your readers to remember, make it bold.
11. Use the power of reason
People like to feel they have a good reason for what they do.
Next time you ask your readers to do something, give them a reason to. Using “because” is a good place to start.
(And no, you don’t have to use the word “because.” Just give your readers a reason to do what you want them to.)
12. Don’t be afraid of the word I
You might have been taught to not use I, me, or my in your writing. Well, throw that idea out of the window.
The more you sprinkle in references to yourself, the more you’ll be able to get personal and genuine with your readers. Your readers are craving it.
I do it all the time, and here’s what I’ve noticed.
When I write a blog post without referring to myself much, it tends to get ignored. All the engagement metrics I track go down. But when I do tell a story or share some insights into my life or business, engagement goes way up.
It just works. Trust me.
Be yourself, and refer to yourself.
Just remember: it’s not about going on an ego trip. It’s about being as honest and real as you can be in front of the people who matter—your readers.
13. Use personal stories
A personal story can turn a good article into a great one. If you’re writing about SEO and you tell readers how it helped you, they’ll be more likely to try it themselves.
Personal stories help build personal connections with your readers. They’ll see that you’re just like them, and they’ll be willing to listen to you.
14. Use other people’s stories
I love using real-life examples in my writing. When I include stories about how influencers have benefited from something, my readers understand how powerful it is.
Using others’ success stories lets your readers know you’re not full of hot air. If you know that something works, use stories to prove it.
15. Answer questions
I’m not talking about asking customers to send in questions. I’m talking about answering customers’ questions before they can even ask.
Great copywriting provides all the answers a customer needs. Your copy should tell the what, why, and how of your product. That means preemptively answering most anticipated questions in the copy itself.
16. Start strong
When it comes to writing articles or blog posts, you absolutely have to start with a strong statement. Tell your readers why they should keep reading.
I’m a big fan of using the first few sentences to relate to readers by addressing their concerns.
But you can also say directly what the post is about. Brian Dean from Backlinko does this a lot:
Doesn’t that make you want to read more? You immediately know why the article is going to be superb.
No matter what you do with the beginning of a post, make sure you connect with the reader right off the bat.
17. Read it aloud
I know, I know. You’re thinking, “Read my writing aloud? Yeah, right.”
But trust me—this works.
Reading your writing aloud will help you identify places where the writing doesn’t flow. If you trip over some words or stop to process the writing, you know it’s time to go back and fix those sections.
18. Make friends with a thesaurus
Ever notice you tend to use the same words over and over again? Or have you found yourself looking for the perfect word to use? You need a thesaurus.
Having a thesaurus is ideal for finding new words to introduce into your writing.
Now please, don’t use a thesaurus to try to find big, sophisticated-sounding words.
Simpler words are almost always better. But if you can’t think of a simpler word, maybe the thesaurus will help.
19. Speak your readers’ language
Take a look at past comments from readers. How do they write? Do you see any common phrases popping up?
Use this information to improve your writing. By literally using your readers’ language, you’ll make it easy for them to relate.
20. Use subheadings
Good writing needs visual contrast. That means no walls of text and no dense copy.
Using subheadings to create subsections helps the reader digest the information and understand it more easily. Make sure you state the main point of each section in the subheading.
21. Stuck? Try combining ideas
Fusing unrelated ideas creates a new twist on an old subject. It works so well because it grabs people’s attention. It makes you do a double-take.
For example, Gary Vaynerchuk posted an article with an eye-catching title:
You have no idea what he’s going for, right? It makes you want to read more because the combination is so unexpected.
22. Stay actionable
There’s nothing wrong with theory—in theory, that is.
When you write an article without giving one actionable tip within it, it’s hard to take that article seriously. Your readers have no way of knowing whether you’re sharing good information.
In each post, aim to include several actionable tips your readers can use today. Sprinkle them throughout the text so readers get new advice with each section.
23. Explain the benefits
What’s the number one reason you buy a product or service? It’s because you’ve found a solution to your problem, right? Well, although people want to buy solutions, solution selling doesn’t work as well as it used to.
Because of the web, people are now able to do their own research and find their own solutions. 60% of people do research, set requirements, benchmark pricing and rank options before they buy. In other words, customers already know all of the potential solutions out there, and they are just trying to figure out which one to pick.
This doesn’t mean you should stop solution selling, but you should also start selling the benefits of your product or service. Here’s an example from the Crazy Egg homepage:
If you look at the image above, you’ll notice three benefits of Crazy Egg.
- The heatmap helps you increase your conversion rates.
- The scrollmap tells you the elements on your web page that people are interested in.
- The overlay report helps you get more clicks on the elements that make you money and fewer clicks on the elements that don’t make you money.
If you don’t think benefit selling is powerful, just read this case study. It breaks down how combining solution selling with benefits boosted our conversion rate by 30%.
24. Make friends with summaries
Summaries, conclusions, wrap-ups. Whatever you call them, there’s no denying they’re important.
Here’s the thing: If someone’s made it to the end of your article, they should be rewarded. One easy way to do that is to include a summary or a conclusion at the end.
You can write a list reminding your readers of the most important facts in the article. Readers will be more likely to remember that important stuff, and it’s also convenient for them. Win-win!
25. Use humor sparingly
I’m the last person on earth to say your writing shouldn’t be personable. But there’s a fine line between relating to your readers and trying too hard.
If you want to use humor, do so—but don’t overdo it. You shouldn’t be cracking a joke with every new paragraph. With humor, often less is more. So, be funny, but don’t be funny all the time.
26. Bookend important points
You were probably taught that you should start a paragraph by introducing the main idea (a.k.a. a topic sentence). I’ll go a step further and say you should talk about your main idea in the first and last sentences of a paragraph.
People will remember information better if they see it more than once. By talking about your main point both at the beginning and at the end of a paragraph or section, you’re making that idea stick in your readers’ heads.
27. Be brutal when editing
Rough drafts aren’t called rough drafts for nothing. You may have a great idea, but without editing, you won’t make your writing the best it can be.
There’s a saying in writing: “Kill your darlings.”
The point is not to become too emotionally attached to your writing. Don’t keep something because you think it sounds nice.
Be honest and unbiased. Cut out filler words, remove lazy phrases, and shorten any novel-length sentences.
Need help? Try the Hemingway app.
28. Use transitions
No one likes to be hit over the head with something.
If you’re going from one topic to another, use a transitional phrase or sentence to make the shift smooth.
One great method is to connect the current section with the next one. Ramit Sethi uses this approach often:
29. Avoid clichés
We all use clichés in everyday speech, but they’re a bad choice for writing.
That’s because using a cliché is a great way to say nothing at all. There is always a better choice (unless you’re making fun of a cliché, of course).
30. Watch your language
No, I don’t mean curse words! The words and phrases you use on your website will either help you get more sales or push your visitors away.
Let me give you an example… do you know why e-commerce companies use the phrase “add to cart” instead of “buy now”? When you click “buy now”, you feel like you are making a commitment, which is why you are less likely to click on it. When you click on “add to cart”, it gives you a sense that you can still back out, which is why you are more likely to click on it.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the phrase “buy now” decreased the conversion rate by 9.61%. And this isn’t the only example of how a few simple words can decrease your conversion rate.
Phrases like “purchase now” or “buy” can decrease conversions as they make people feel that they are making a commitment. “Free trial”, “money back guarantee”, “we promise not to spam you”, “discount”, “get instant access”, “percent off” and “trusted by” are all examples of phrases that can help boost your conversion rate.
31. Include rhetorical questions
Do you want to be an awesome copywriter?
That’s an example of a rhetorical question. If you use rhetorical questions in a smart way, you can build a better connection with your readers and get them hyped for what’s next.
But if you go overboard, your readers will probably leave. Use rhetorical questions only when you want to emphasize a point or create hype.
32. Leverage lists
Lists are fantastic. They break down information into smaller chunks, and the format makes it a breeze to read.
If you’re packing a ton of information within a paragraph, consider making it into a list. Numbered lists work well for processes, and bullet points are ideal for everything else.
Here’s Pat Flynn using both:
33. Eliminate buzzwords
It’s tempting to use jargon because it’s so widespread. But the truth? Most of the time, it comes across as vague filler text.
You might want to write a post called:
“Creating a Streamlined Process for Creating a Dynamic Funnel,”
but it’s more direct to title it:
“How to Get More Customers Fast.”
There’s a time and place for buzzwords, but don’t go over the top with them.
34. Keep it focused
Writing about sales? You could go into all sorts of topics, from marketing to public speaking.
But it’s important to narrow that scope so you don’t lose readers by going on tangents.
Keep everything on topic. Don’t talk about another subject unless it’s relevant. If you do talk about something else, keep it short.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
You don’t have to write a lot of copy to convince people to buy. A great example of this is Square.
Similarly to the Highrise example above, Square also tested a version with a lot of marketing copy, which decreased conversions by 22.72%. This just shows that having too much marketing copy, or the wrong type of copy, can decrease your conversion rate.
The trick with writing a marketing copy, whether it is short or long, is to make sure you are answering objections. People will always have concerns about buying your product or service. If you can find out what they are, you can write a copy that addresses those objections.
A simple way to figure out what objections your visitors have is to throw up survey on your website and ask them the following questions:
- What else would you like to see on this page?
- What’s your biggest concern about purchasing [insert your product or service name]?
35. Make your content scanable
There is nothing wrong with having a lot of text on a page, but make sure it is skimmable. On average, people leave a web page within 10 to 20 seconds, so you have to make sure you are able to grab people’s attention within a few seconds.
From having a strong valuable proposition to formatting your text so people can quickly understand the message you are trying to convey, focus on making your content more skimmable.
These are the six simple ways to make your content digestible in a quick manner:
- Bold important facts, benefits and sentences.
- Break up long paragraphs into shorter ones.
- Use bullets and numbers, where applicable.
- Keep your text readable by using black text on a white background.
- Pare down your web page by removing unnecessary elements.
- Use photos to explain your message.
36. A picture is worth a thousand words
From placing images of happy customers on your web pages to using images to explain your product, you can bank on the power of images to help convince people to buy. Highrise boosted their conversion rate by 102.5% by showing an image of a happy customer on its homepage.
Apple also uses images on its features page to help enforce its marketing copy. On its iPad mini page, Apple uses a pencil to help show how thin iPad mini is.
Text without images can be boring, so you should test adding images to your web pages to help increase engagement.
As you can see from the image above, adding pictures to your site can help increase engagement by 21%.
37. Optimize your whole site, not just one page
When you think of a marketing copy, what comes to mind? Chances are it’s sales letters. You know, it’s those ugly pages that never end and are just trying to sell you something.
Kind of like this…
Effective marketing copy isn’t just about one page. You need your whole site to have one cohesive message. In other words, your home page has to tie in with your features page; your features page has to tie in with your pricing page; and your pricing page has to align with your checkout page.
When President Obama was running for election, his team used to have a single landing page that used to collect donations. But when they tested a sequential 4-step landing page, in which the marketing copy flowed from one page to another, they were able to boost their conversion rate by 5%.
When I used to have a congruent marketing copy between my Quick Sprout emails and my sales letter, my sales went up by 18.74%.
To ensure that the marketing copy throughout your whole site is aligned, before you start writing your copy, you should first plan out all the pages. Planning ahead of writing will ensure that your message is consistent throughout.
38. Build a relationship before you sell
Just for a moment, go back in time and imagine yourself in elementary school. Now think of the time where they made you sell candy door to door in order to raise money for the school.
Which of your neighbors bought candy from you? The ones who knew you, right?
When you get to know people and bond them, they are more likely to buy from you compared to a stranger. So, how do you build a relationship with your readers in a really short period of time?
- Write in a conversational tone – you can’t get to know people without having a conversation with them, so use the words “you” and “I” within your copy because it creates the effect of having a conversation with your visitors.
- Tell stories – it’s easier to bond with people who open up. Telling stories will help people feel like they know you.
- Build trust – one of the quickest ways to build trust with your visitors is to leverage testimonials.
- Show affection – by showing that you are there to help people, you will build a bond faster. I do this by telling people to contact me if they need help or by inviting them to read my story and leave a message for me on my about page.
- Relate to your audience – people get along with others who are like them. Don’t act smarter than everyone else, and don’t think you are better than your customer. Highlight any characteristics you or your company may have that your customers can relate to. On Quick Sprout, I talk about how I came from nothing and made something of myself because I feel anyone who puts his or her mind to it can do the same. At KISSmetrics, we show how we love education as our visitors also love to learn and educate.
Creating a bond with your visitors is an important step in sales. Test a marketing copy that helps you create a bond with your visitors.
You don’t need years of study to become a master copywriter.
But you do need to practice. And you need to practice a lot. Your writing will only get better if you take the time to refine it. Every day, make it your goal to write something, even if it’s not much. You might be surprised to see how quickly your wordsmithing improves.
If you are looking to boost your conversion rates and, more importantly, your sales, don’t forget about the little things.
Small tweaks such as adjusting text in your call-to-action buttons or changing your headline can have a huge impact on your conversion rates!